The World

The Garden of Forking Paths or Controvers­es of Time

- Lara Lychagina

Since time immemorial, man has enjoyed playing. Always. All kinds of games, such as love and war, diplomacy and drama, cuisine and hunger, philosophy and child’s play, to name just a few. Meanwhile, the most favourite and neverchang­ing one has been playing with time, with variations beyond count. Here are just two of them, quite opposite in meaning: the “game” of the Amazonian Amondaus, having no idea of time as such in their minds and no word for it in their language and the Borges World Model, described in “The Garden of Forking Paths”, with countless time sequences containing all possibilit­ies imaginable. In the meantime, we have found ourselves in a world in which the game rules of the Amazonian tribe and the Borges’ labyrinth have intermingl­ed with each other. We seem to have got into a time lapse where the clock hands have stopped dead, and the world has sunk into a null-gravity timelessne­ss.

On the other hand, now, we have a feeling of a new strength. It is as if we could do anything while time has stopped in tracks, i.e., outrun those ahead of us or catch up with our own selves and find what we have lost or give our selves what we have amassed. The year 2020 has become an alternativ­e history for us. It has given us a chance to make a fresh start, get rid of useless texts, correct mistakes, and write new narratives. It has also become a totally Oriental-style comforting symbol of silence and quiet. Just a while ago, our todays were just like our yesterdays, with hardly any difference to notice. Now, that ideal age of linear time and good chances to avoid getting lost in labyrinths is over and gone.

When that world collapsed, we found ourselves in Ts'ui Pên’s labyrinth in the Garden of Forking Paths, each being an image of the world still unfinished, but perfect nonetheles­s. What kind of choice shall we make? This is for the year 2021 to show. Man is always free to choose which path to take even lying under the guillotine blade, still having a whole eyewink to choose an answer to the question “What am I here for?” from a variety of options. In 2020, we have been “isolated” from travelling, socializin­g, destroying, or creating things in the world, actually, very tired of our frenzied activities. All this time, we seem to have been in a ‘Confined Space Zone,’ either created by ourselves, or left behind by aliens from outer space after a Strugatsky-style roadside picnic. We are still in search of the Wish-Granting Golden Sphere, yet knowing not what wish to make. Maybe, we should wish to stop being stalkers and recall how easy it is to be just humans living not in “The Zone” but on good old Earth, in our Home secure enough for us to take off all masks and gloves. For ever. Just to live our lives. Then, we should realize that 2020 has been not only a time of innumerabl­e losses but also a path of opportunit­ies we are still unaware of.

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